It is one week on from the national and local elections, so it is a good time to reflect on the results and what it means for Doncaster.
I was obviously disappointed with the outcome of the general election. I believe Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband would have made an excellent Prime Minister and had hoped to see a Labour government in place, able to address inequalities in our society and abolish policies such as the bedroom tax. We must now see what policies the new Conservative government brings forward, but I have concerns about what their leadership will mean for public services in Doncaster.
In the last five years, Doncaster Council has seen its government grant for public services cut from £270 million per year to £148m per year. This forms the main part of our budget and we now face the prospect of even more cuts in the future. In my experience, continued cuts at this level are simply not sustainable without them having a real impact on local people and businesses.
My colleagues and I will continue to do what we can to drive forward improvements in Doncaster. I was delighted with the results of the local election, with Labour gaining 41 of the 55 seats on Doncaster Council. We have a great team in place and we will also work with opposition councillors in the best interests of our borough.
When I became Mayor in 2013, the council had been dysfunctional, The Government had intervened and children’s services still required urgent improvements. We have now put the council back on a stable footing, set up the new Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and led the council out of government intervention early.
We have also delivered some significant successes, including securing Doncaster as the home of the National High Speed Rail College. This will provide access to skilled jobs for local people and it is already strengthening our thriving railway industry.
We will now build on these firm foundations to deliver more improvements for residents over the next two years, focusing on jobs, education, care services, housing and issues such as littering, and potholes.
There was a nice postscript to the election. Carter Allen, a four-year-old Scawsby boy, was left in tears after he accidentally dropped his favourite Lego figure in one of the ballot boxes. They cannot be opened while voting takes place, but council staff managed to find the Lego man among the thousands of votes at the count on election night. Carter and his mum came to the Civic Office this week where he was reunited with his favourite toy. It was particularly nice for all the staff who worked so hard throughout the elections and I would like to thank them for their fantastic commitment and contribution.